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Fear in the Jewish and Muslim communities

by
23 January 2015

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From Dr Jane Clements

Sir, - Most of us who, over the past few weeks, have entered churches, schools, or Christian institutions will have done so without having to pass through airport-style security. This has not been the case for members of the Jewish community in this country, who have been living under increased security measures after recent events in Paris. This is nothing new, however: visitors to Jewish schools and synagogues in recent years have been somewhat shocked to find themselves halted by security guards and having bags and clothing searched.

Your report on Jewish fears for the future (News, 16 January), highlighted two recent reports. Speaking last Sunday, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that she had never thought to hear that British Jews felt afraid in the UK. As a result of the most recent tragedy, it seems that we are waking up to the fact that anti-Semitism is alive and well in our society, and has never really gone away.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to address this. This is not just because the catalogue of Church-led anti-Judaism in centuries past has enabled poisonous myths to develop in folk memory. But also, in following the example of Christ, we are required to reach out to the vulnerable in our society, recognising the face of God in each individual and meeting needs without judgement or prejudice.

Both Jews and Muslims feel very vulnerable just now. They need help in educating the media, and others in influential positions, to promote a society less hampered by religious illiteracy. They also need support in addressing racist overtones in public discourse, which, alas, show little sign of abating.

Jane Clements
Director
Council of Christians and Jews
21 Godliman Street
London EC4V 5BD

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